Republican Senators Introducing Alternative Cybersecurity Bill

A group of Republican senators have come up with their own cybersecurity legislation they say will give the business and the government the tools needed to protect against cybersecurity threats.

The Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act (SECURE IT) is being officially unveiled at a press conference Thursday by co-sponsors including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

The bill is an alternative to the Cyber-Security Act of 2012 (S. 2105) introduced two weeks ago by primarily Democratic senators, including Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.).

That bill would include having the Department of Homeland Security develop, with industry input,  "risk-based" network performance requirements that would "ideally" be based on current practices.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has supported more coordination with government about cybersecurity attacks and threats, and backed a House bill introduced in Nov. 2011, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, that would increase info sharing while immunizing the private sector from criminal or civil liability for using cybersecurity systems, sharing information, or not acting on information obtained or shared. It even hosted a coming out party for the bill at NCTA headquarters. It did not come out in support of the Rockefeller bill, however.

NCTA has long argued for strong industry-government partnerships and the ability for businesses to respond to online threats. The latter was one of the cable industry's arguments in the network neutrality debate for the need for flexible network management.

NCTA did give a shout out last week to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's backing of a public-private partnership approach to cybersecurity, saying voluntary measures rather than top-down government regulation is the best way to identify and respond to threats.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.